The 10 Absolute Best PlayStation Vita Action Games of All Time

The PlayStation Vita was a powerful handheld console that pushed the boundaries of gaming on the go. Despite its relatively short lifespan from 2011-2019, the Vita amassed an impressive library of action-packed games that took advantage of its crisp OLED screen, dual analog sticks, and beefy specs.

In this guide, we countdown the 10 best action games ever released on PlayStation Vita. These games represent the pinnacle of combat, platforming, shooting, and more – showcasing just how much pure action the little Vita could handle.

Criteria for Selection

Several key factors went into choosing and ranking Vita‘s top action titles:

  • Gameplay – The quality and tightness of combat, controls, mechanics, etc. Fast, fluid, and fun!
  • Graphics – Visual splendor that pushed Vita‘s OLED screen. Slick character models, effects, environments.
  • Sound – Audio that heightened immersion. From epic scores to bone-crunching Effects.
  • Replay Value – The length of the experience paired with reasons to keep coming back.
  • Influence – Games that made an impact on Vita owners and the platform itself.

Now without further ado, these are the 10 best action games on PlayStation Vita!

#10: A Rose in the Twilight

Release: 2016 / Developer: Nippon Ichi Software

A Rose in the Twilight is a hauntingly beautiful, gothic-style puzzle platformer. Players control a girl named Rose who awakens in a mysterious castle grasping a thorny vine. Rose must use her supernatural vine to move objects, swing across chasms, siphon blood to open doors, and more.

The puzzle platforming challenges are clever and intricate, often requiring creative use of Rose‘s vine and blood manipulation abilities. The dark art style oozes melancholy charm with storytelling told through the environment.

#9: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Release: 2016 / Developer: WayForward Technologies

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a gorgeously animated 2D platformer that stars shapeshifting genie Shantae. She whips enemies with her hair, explores expansive levels, acquires magic abilities like firewall protection and healing dances, and battles menacing bosses.

Vibrant hand-drawn animations, unlockable transformations, and varied locales like tropical islands and haunted houses make Half-Genie Hero a visual standout. The upbeat soundtrack perfectly matches the lighthearted tone.

#8: Downwell

Release: 2015 / Developer: Ojiro Fumoto

In the black and white platformer Downwell, players plunge down a randomly generated well while blasting enemies with gunboots. The objective is to descend deeper through three levels each with obstacles, shops, bonuses, and unique stylistic palettes.

Downwell‘s simplicity – move, shoot, and jump – belies an addictive challenge. Randomization ensures no two runs feel the same. There is brilliant emergent gameplay born from the interplay of power-ups and player‘s skill. This leads to deep runs with rooms full of enemies barely held at bay.

#7: Super Meat Boy

Release: 2010 / Developer: Team Meat

This ultra-challenging 2D platformer tasks players with saving Bandage Girl from the villainous Dr. Fetus through over 300 levels. Players control the titular cube of meat, leaping over deadly rotating saws, racing against rising lava, and more.

Super Meat Boy pushes platforming prowess to the limits with perfectly tuned controls and devilishly difficult level design requiring split-second timing and precision movement. Attempting stages again and again is all part of the charm.

#6: Shovel Knight

Release: 2014 / Developer: Yacht Club Games

Shovel Knight is a loving homage to classic 8-bit platformers starring a courageous knight wielding a trusty shovel blade. Players explore villages, forests, castles, and towers while slashing foes, solving puzzles, and platforming.

It nails the retro aesthetic with authentic chiptune music and pixelated graphics. But beyond pure nostalgia, Shovel Knight stands as an expertly crafted 2D action game with substantial quests to complete, unlockable moves, fun boss fights, and the perfect level of challenge.

#5: Rogue Legacy

Release: 2013 / Developer: Cellar Door Games

This ingenious genealogical roguelite constantly introduces new descendants of an adventurer bloodline to raid ever-changing castles. Each scion varies in traits like knights who can‘t perceive red or mages with vertigo.

Procedural generation ensures every character faces fresh challenges finding unique paths through each castle while gathering gold to improve the family manor. These royally difficult action-platforming rooms will push your skills to their limit.

#4: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Release: 2012 / Developer: Spike Chunsoft

Danganronpa 2 is a thrilling mystery visual novel. A class trip to a tropical island paradise takes a sinister turn when students are murdered one-by-one by an unknown assailant. You must investigate crime scenes, interview quirky characters, and play stylistic minigames to reveal the truth.

Its anime art style, eclectic soundtrack, and bizarre story beats make Danganronpa incredibly memorable. Solving each subsequent murder mystery is utterly engrossing, always shocking, and dripping with the series‘ signature black humor.

#3: Samurai Warriors 4

Release: 2014 / Developer: Omega Force

Samurai Warriors 4 recounts historical battles for domination between warring clans with loads of larger-than-life personality. Players select from over 50 playable warriors across factions employing specialized moves and Musou rage modes when defeating thousands of foes.

This Dynasty Warriors spin-off impresses with vivid stylized graphics and fast-paced combat. Controlling legendary samurai slicing through hordes of enemies captures power fantasy perfectly. Tactical elements like orders and unit types bring welcomed strategy depth.

#2: Axiom Verge

Release: 2015 / Developer: Tom Happ Games

This moody sci-fi action-adventure game borrows Metroid‘s open 2D world formula. Players control a scientist who upon suffering a crippling injury awakens in an ancient yet advanced world. Through vigorous exploration, you‘ll discover power-ups, collect gun attachments, and battle bizarre high-tech creatures.

Axiom Verge conjures an alien atmosphere with otherworldly environments and a foreboding soundtrack. It expands the Metroid formula with its own unique tools like a drill that phases through walls. Combat proves crisp thanks in part to the wealth of distinct weapons.

#1: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X

Release: 2016 / Developer: Crypton Future Media

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X stands as the quintessential Vita rhythm game. Players press buttons in time with catchy J-pop tunes while following the beatmaps of Miku and other digital avatars dancing across surreal, flashing environments.

It offers 30 excellent Miku tracks that make mastering button combinations enjoyable even for newcomers. Unlocking costumes and accessories to customize performers proves addicting. On higher difficulties, rapid swipes and presses reach fever pitch intensity.

Legacy of PlayStation Vita Action Games

While PlayStation Vita did not achieve the mainstream success of PSP before it or Switch after, Vita succeeded as an exceptional portable for experiencing action games. Its vibrant screen and powerful specs could run console-quality software. This ability to showcase fast-paced, kinetic games in your hands represented a technical benchmark.

Sure triple-A support dried up within a few years, but indie hits like Axiom Verge proved Vita‘s enduring capability as an action platform. And the fact that many entries on this list originated on Vita demonstrates its unique appeal to developers in pioneering new handheld game design.

So while PlayStation Vita did not transform Sony‘s fortunes, it leaves behind an impressive action game library proving just how much firepower could be packed into one tiny glorious handheld.

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